We don’t yet quite know why Alan Budd has stepped down as chair of the Office for Budget Responsibility. But a clue may have something to do with a complicated fuss recently over unemployment figures and — as our own Danny Blanchflower has now raised — questions about the body’s independence, of which more to come in this week’s magazine.
But meanwhile, here‘s a little demonstration, from a speech in February this year, of how George Osborne — who, rumour has it, tried unsuccessfully to persuade Sir Alan to stay on — thought he would do at least “a couple of years”. It is dressed up as a self-deprecating joke, to show how the future chancellor would be shedding control over fiscal policy, naturally:
Sir Alan Budd has agreed to chair the Office for Budget Responsibility during this period. No one can doubt his independence, and I want to thank him for taking this important task on.
Whether I thank him in a couple of years’ time is another matter — but that is the whole point.
Yet the Treasury is still insisting that Sir Alan always planned to leave “in the summer”. There’s plenty more to come out here.